We found FOUR, count them, FOUR Ethiopian restaurants on the corner of Clairmont and Briarcliff Roads, and so my daughter was interested to try out some of this exotic cuisine. We dined early one night at Meskerem, which smelled like incense and roasted spices, and found ourselves enjoying some mildly spiced lamb and incendiary Doro Wat on some spongy, sour Injera bread. Injera is traditionally made from teff flour, but many restaurant injera recipes commonly add in wheat flour, so be sure to check on that if you are interested in GF dining options.
We really enjoyed eating with our hands, ripping off bits of the injera and dabbing in the bits of meat, yellow pea puree and salad that adorned our shared plate. There was a beautiful dining alcove with low seating and tables, covered with pillows in all different spice shades that looked inviting and there was also a raised seating area with giant baskets that had conical covers that must keep injera warm for diners.
With a gloriously sunny, 72 degree day we headed out on our last full day in Atlanta to the Zoo. We were decidedly skewing the median age of Zoo attendants (mostly toddlers and babies) but we really enjoyed watching the drowsy beasts and the Reptile (and Amphibian) House is particularly interesting. From the world's most venomous snake, the deadly Black Mamba, to beautiful green tree vipers and tiny turtles and frogs, there's plenty to gawk at.
While getting mildly lost yet again on our way to the Zoo, we passed through the funky Little Five Points neighborhood (the heart seems to be the intersection of Euclid and Moreland) and decided to head back there to do some sightseeing and shopping. There's some spectacular people watching with an interesting mix of dreadlocked white dude skateboarders, dreadlocked black dude street poets, retro gals with Bettie Page hairdos and bright red lipstick and all kinds of other interestingly adorned folks. I felt quite dowdy in my sweater and jeans.
The strip along Euclid housed a variety of record stores, arty movie theatres, falafel joints and at least four vintage clothing stores. We really liked Rag-o-Rama for its huge selection (we were bummed that we were two days early for their $1 sale), Stefan's for their eclectic and stylish decor (a cluster of wig heads over the transom and a folk art circus poster over the cash register for an Alligator Girl) and my daughter Amy's favorite, Psycho Sisters. This last shop is jam packed with second hand clothes and all the accessories one could need for any kind of occasion, from spangled booty shorts to Mod wigs to earrings the size of toasters, all modestly priced. The staff was really friendly and fun, and put up with my queries about whether they stocked all kinds of bizarre fashionwear, from snoods (check) to go go boots (check).
And now, for what everyone has been waiting for, our report of the famous barbeque dinner. By day 3, I had finally got my bearings about our neighborhood, and armed with some extensive Internet maps and directions, we finally made our way to the fabled Fat Matt's Rib Shack. And it was all worth it. I didn't have my camera with me, which is probably a good thing as I would have dribbled barbecue sauce, rib grease, and pot likker all over it, but the atmosphere is dark and smoky, with room for live blues bands to perform in the back.
The food was terrific and we both ordered a slab of ribs with some collard greens (they are not cooked to death but rather have a nice texture and bacony flavor), potato salad (just like my Atlanta born and bred Grandma Trudie used to make with green bell pepper, onion and lots of mayonnaise, not my style now, but a nostalgic treat!) and coleslaw (just okay). We didn't speak much as we chomped our way through our tender, heavenly barbeque, but we were grinning all the while.
The place had a long line of customers waiting to order, so I didn't get to quiz the counter staff about its gluten-icity, (and Amy and I are not the GF diners in the house), but The Atlanta Gluten-Free Dinner Club notes that they have checked the BBQ sauce ingredients and determined that they are GF. Obviously if you are gluten-free, you'll want to skip the macaroni and cheese and the delicious-looking pecan and sweet potato pie slices as your sides. And do mention that you'll not want the standard, grease- and sauce-absorbing two pieces of white bread slapped on top of your order. If you are planning a trip to Atlanta and would like some more expansive gluten-free dining options I would recommend the website of The Gluten Intolerance Group of Atlanta.
My buddy Simona tells me that there are two other attractions that one should not miss in a visit to Atlanta's Northeast neighborhoods: The Dekalb Farmers Market, and the Kudzu Antique Market, both of which look really tempting. As it was, I had dragged Amy to two used bookstores, so I was pushing my luck at keeping to our college visit schedule, but they are on my Atlanta bucket list. We had such a delightful time visiting this warm and welcoming Southern city and I know we will be back.
I would also like to announce the giveaway winner of a copy of my mom's new book "Anna: Heart of a Peasant" which is Eliot's Eats. Congratulations Eliot! I will be contacting you about the shipping details.
For those who would like an extended stay in Atlanta and take in more of the tastes and fun times, try these hotel coupons to save money. Disclaimer: I received compensation for adding the link to the hotel coupons site in the last paragraph above.